Jing He quietly continued to water the plants, trying to find something he could say in the meantime. Unfortunately, his mind seemed completely blank. He just couldn’t come up with anything. Talking about yesterday was out of the question because of the things that the dragon king had said. Bringing up anything of his own race seemed a little too self-absorbed but he didn’t know what to ask about the dragon race either. So what was left?
He glanced up at the sky, hoping that there was some kind of inspiration to gain from there. He could probably remark about the weather and see where it led. It was just that he was afraid that if he spoke up and it didn’t lead anywhere, the following silence would be even more awkward than it was right now.
Qiu Ling watched Jing He, actually quite content with the current situation. His beloved had always been a little more on the quiet side so he didn’t think that it was strange for him to keep quiet at this moment. In fact, he quite enjoyed being silent together. Most likely, that was something that couldn’t be done with just anyone.
After several more minutes of this, Jing He finally couldn’t take it any longer. He turned around, clutching the jar to his chest while he looked at Qiu Ling with a worried expression. “Longjun …”
Qiu Ling raised his brows at him. “What’s the matter?”
Jing He didn’t know how to continue. He actually hadn’t thought ahead and just spoken up because he couldn’t take the silence any longer. He also didn’t know why he was like this. Normally, he didn’t have any trouble staying silent. He hadn’t had this problem with the dragon king before either. But suddenly, he was unable to keep quiet with him.
Qiu Ling didn’t quite understand what was going on when his beloved didn’t speak up. “It’s alright whatever it is.” Anyway, reassuring him should be a good thing to do, right?
Jing He continued to hesitate for a while but then gave a faint smile. “This must be rather boring for Longjun. I think I finished so we should probably go back now.”
Qiu Ling looked at the other part of the flowerbeds that they hadn’t visited at all and raised his brows higher. “What about that side though?” He motioned over, wondering to himself. He had seen Jing He water his plants quite a few times in the past so he was pretty sure that there was no reason not to water them today. While there were some that needed less water than others, it wasn’t to the point of leaving out several flowerbeds at once.
Jing He followed his gesture with his eyes and then didn’t know what to say. Keeping quiet for yet another moment, he could finally only explain weakly. “I really wouldn’t want to burden Longjun with this.” Anyway, the longer he thought about it, the more he felt that it was inappropriate to have the dragon king follow him around while he watered some plant.
Qiu Ling smiled when he finally realized what was going on. “To be honest, there’s no need to be like this. Actually, I really enjoy this. I don’t have much knowledge of plants as you know but seeing you care for them always gives me a warm feeling. I like to do this. So you can just continue. I don’t mind.”
Jing He nodded but still didn’t feel at ease. He slightly sped up his steps, soon finishing with his task. Once again, he turned around to Qiu Ling but he didn’t dare to look up at him. He kept his gaze toward the ground, barely looking at the hem of Qiu Ling’s robe. “I have finished.”
Qiu Ling gave a hum and then motioned back to the pavilion. “Then, do you want to go and sit down again?”
Jing He nodded and the two of them returned to the pavilion and sat down after bringing away the jar. Jing He looked out at the garden, not quite sure how to continue once again. There was only so much they could do. “How about a game of weiqi?” They had played in the past a few times and even though it probably wasn’t the most exciting thing to do either, they would at least be able to spend some time on it.
Qiu Ling was naturally ecstatic. His beloved was actually making an effort to keep him here! If this wasn’t progress, then what was? “But of course!”
“Then please excuse me for a moment while I get the tiles.” Jing He got up and walked back to his palace, getting both the tiles and the board while trying to think about how to proceed further. Just one game would already take some time but they wouldn’t be busy the whole day. He really didn’t know what to do afterward.
Unfortunately, no matter how we thought, he still couldn’t come up with anything. In the end, he just went back outside with the game and then put everything down on the table in front of Qiu Ling, just hoping that he would somehow be able to figure it out later on.
Qiu Ling wasn’t worried at all. He smiled happily and then focused on the game. By now, he had actually learned how to play so he wasn’t completely lost anymore. The two of them weren’t necessarily evenly matched but with Jing He being distracted while Qiu Ling focused, they were a lot closer in skill than they had usually been.
Qiu Ling slightly raised his brows when he noticed, feeling that he was really making progress recently on more than one front. Jing He became even more flustered though. Not only did he fail to find the right words to say or things to do, now he even started to show such a lack of skill in something he had previously not had a problem with. Who knew what Longjun would think? He really couldn’t help but worry about that.
They were halfway through the game when steps sounded from the other side of the palace. Mu Kun and Huang Lan’s voices rang out and then, Jing He heard the voice of his father.
The Heavenly Emperor laughed, clearly in a good mood. “I came to see my son. Is he currently inside?”
Mu Kun and Huang Lan exchanged a glance, having heard how the crown prince had previously left his palace. They could imagine just who he was spending time with right now. They were a little worried about what would happen but this wasn’t something they could get involved in. Thus, they could only respond truthfully. “To answer Your Majesty, His Highness should be in the garden.”
“Oh, then I guess I’d better go and see him there.”
Jing He tensed, not quite sure what to do. Being seen together with Longjun … He was afraid of what his father would think. The guards had just been called back. If he was now found together with him, then maybe things would go right back to how they had been before.
Qiu Ling slightly narrowed his eyes when he saw how Jing He reacted but then, he figured that this was also a good opportunity.
Before the Heavenly Emperor appeared, he reached over the table and grabbed Jing He’s chin, making him look in his direction. He leaned over the table, his gaze deep, and lowered his voice. “I guess it wouldn’t do for us to be seen together like this. I’ll leave then. I’ll come and see you later.” He leaned even closer, his lips almost brushing Jing He’s cheek, and then turned around, leaving the scene with one jump.
When the Heavenly Emperor turned around at the corner of the palace, nothing could be seen anymore of the dragon king. There was only his son sitting in the small pavilion, seemingly playing a game of weiqi against himself. The Heavenly Emperor couldn’t help but feel that his son looked quite lonely like this. Ah, it was good that he had finally come over! He should go and spend more time with him so he would feel better!